Remember Mafia 3? It was my 2016 game of the year, which wasn’t an easy feat given the pedigree on display last year. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to try its three piece DLC menu since it was announced, and finally did so over the course of about a day and a half. For those who didn’t play the main game, it was a solid open world third person shooter, made worth playing due to its setting, story and soundtrack. Namely; 60s New Orleans, a biracial Vietnam vet Punishering his way through a city full of racist gangsters to avenge his adopted family, and all the period appropriate music you can think of. This was all layered onto satisfying combat and stealth, as well as surprisingly enjoyable driving, the result of which was an experience thats game of the year accolade I firmly stand by. Onto the DLC.
First up is “Faster, Baby!” which, for better or worse, mixes a grim civil rights struggle with vehicular combat and a whole lot of chases. Lincoln teams up with Black Panther-type Roxy and fellow ‘Nam vet MJ to take down a racist, murderous Sheriff with a folder full of evidence attesting to his crimes. Why he didn’t destroy the folder is beyond me- you pinch it right off his desk. I get that he’s really overconfident because he’s a racist white man in the sixties and in a position of authority, but he understands how dangerous it is, and goes out of his way to get it back, so it does seem odd he didn’t just burn it. Anyway, dealing with said Sheriff revolves around this particular DLC’s focus on all things on four wheels, namely chases and car combat, of a sort. Traps have been added to country roads that, when shot, cover the road in things like oil drums and logs to slow down pursuers. One mission traps you in a car and involves trashing new location Sinclair Parish and shooting anything that explodes. Staying in the car when it’s not mandatory is also encouraged, most memorably during a mission in which you re-enact the end of John Wick with a bunch of Klansmen. Despite the new gameplay direction, this is easily the weakest of the three add-ons. The aforementioned mashing together of grim race struggle and exciting blaxploitation doesn’t feel nearly as jarring as it could, though that’s largely due to this little pocket of story being over before it really begins; dealing with the sheriff takes up roughly half of a ninety minute DLC. Each add-on has a unique, post-story sidequest: “Faster, Baby!” has growing and selling weed, which is harmless enough, but not particualrly involving outside of driving around the map finding new strains to plant.
Lincoln’s old Vietnam mate and CIA scumbag John Donovan takes centre stage here, as the pair track down a man named Aldridge, who switched sides during the war, nearly killed Donovan and now has a nuclear warhead to his name. Much akin to how Lincoln’s adventures in the base game were reminiscent of The Punisher, “Stones Unturned” is this universe’s equivalent of the time Frank Castle infiltrated Grand Nixon Island, murdered a load of mercenaries and stopped the head of the island from detonating a Nuke. Once you actually reach said island the DLC comes into its own, leaning into its change of scenery and, thankfully, cementing (in my mind at least) that Lincoln and John do genuinely care about each other. There’s an attempt to make Aldridge sympathetic, with his declaration that the US government at the time is something of a cesspool, and that the NVA and Vietcong “Aren’t [his] enemy”, but it’s only brief, and doesn’t really have much impact. The unique sidequest here is bounty hunting, which is much, much less exciting than it sounds. You’re given a tranquilliser pistol and a Hawaiian shirt (optional) and sent after three sequential men who need to be knocked out, stuffed into a car boot and driven back to another of Donovan’s shady mates. It’s not particualrly fun, it’s not interesting, but it’s over quickly. The DLC itself, however, is quite good.
Sign of the Times
Rounding out the trilogy is somehow simultaneously the best and most disappointing. Basically, it turns out there’s a True Detective cult operating in New Bordeaux, Lincoln and Father James rescue a member who’s been manipulated and abused, then everything turns into that scene from Kill List. You know the one. The USP for “Sign of the Times” is the addition of L.A Noire-style crime scene investigating, though it’s very basic. Most of the time you’re driving to locations historically racked with great tragedy, photographing a few things and examining the odd corpse, then blowing away cultists. The gunfights and skulking around creepy locations that make up the bulk of the add-on work well, and the detective work is a nice idea, albeit shallow and rather brief. The main issue I have is that this doesn’t really fit into the world and narrative established in the base game, despite being canon. It feels like standalone Halloween content, like that inFAMOUS 2 DLC where you’re a vampire, but instead is now a real part of Lincoln’s story. It’s not all bad though, the bond Lincoln forms with Anna (the cultist he rescues) is endearing, and it’s nice to see him work directly with Father James. The sidequest for this one is easily the best, and goes along way to making it the best of the three: rebuilding Sammy’s bar. After all the shit it went through in the main game, as well as being used a human sacrifice site in this DLC, Lincoln and his aunt can spend money to fix up the place, hire new staff, expand to different floors and the like, as well as instal tributes to Sammy, Ellis and Perla. Something like this deserves to be in the main game, but as it stands it makes the DLC worth playing, as a lovely bonus once you’ve dealt with the cult.
Overall the Mafia 3 DLC is solid, if uninspired. The new additions are largely superfluous, but are occasionally excellent, and the main body of each add-on is, when it boils down to it, more Mafia 3, which is always a good thing. None of it reaches the heights of the base game, but if you enjoyed that, this is worth getting.
By James Lambert